S.O.S. – Save our station. Folks, this is a lasting and important fact. If the station goes, the view of the wharf and bay will forever change. The railway will lay extra tracks and stockpile empty, graffiti-covered cars in the area ... sometimes for weeks on end. The noise, smells and dirt will be spoiling so much of the town we love.
Now’s the time to at least try to stop that process by getting involved with the effort. Doing nothing will be regretted later. Make your voice count.
When I graduated from Blaine High School in 1992, our science lab was adequate for the size of our class of 65 graduates. However, now that I have returned to Blaine to teach, the changes since my graduation are considerable. Class sizes are now two and a half times larger than they were in 1992. A student might have one of any of the five current science teachers, all of whom are vying for a chance at the one science lab. Please consider our overcrowded science lab and vote yes for the bond – a bond that is 10 percent of the amount that was put before voters in 2011. Right now building costs are historically low – now is the time to get the most for our money.
Another opportunity that we have as a community is to continue our current support of operating costs of our schools. Public school districts in Washington state receive the majority of their annual operating funds from the state. However, the legislature only funds approximately 62 percent of what it costs to provide a child’s public education, and this number has been declining annually as a result of rapidly declining state revenue.
The balance of the money necessary to operate the Blaine school district is expected to come from the federal government, grants and local levies. Consider the levy tax rates (per $1,000) for the other six districts in our county, ranging from $2.30 to $3.40. By voting yes to the levy, we will be able to continue our current educational programs at a levy tax rate of only $1.39 per $1,000 assessed value.
Please vote yes for schools on February 14. For more information visit www.blainesd.org.
Republican Mitt Romney founded a company, Bain Capital, which calls itself a “private equity firm” (PEF). This type used to be called “leveraged buy-out firms” because they do not put capital into companies they buy, they take equity capital out.
For example, a PEF put up $85 million as a down payment to purchase Harry and David, the 110-year-old fruit basket company in Oregon. To complete their purchase they borrowed $250 million from banks providing the “leverage” that PEFs rely upon to drive their exploitive business model. In the first quarter, the PEF paid itself a $97 million “dividend,” a profit of $12 million for approximately three months’ work.
They then reduced wages, salaries, pensions, and research and development to pay down the debt they themselves had created. Saddled with such huge debt, Harry and David filed for bankruptcy before the year was out, and nearly 6,000 workers were put at risk of losing their jobs.
Mitt Romney’s firm made $32 million on the bankruptcy of a Kansas City steel mill. When United Airlines went bankrupt its top three executives shared over $300 million in bonuses while the lawyers, accountants and bank advisers shared $300 million in “professional fees.” Meanwhile, the workers and pensioners lost $4.5 billion of income, and the federal government became responsible for $7 billion more in unfunded pension liabilities (UPL). There are now $3 trillion of UPLs held by the U.S.
Readers, this is not free-enterprise capitalism, this is parasitic capitalism. These firms take equity capital muscle out of the corporate body and replace it with fat in the form of debt. Their corporate victims labor afterward, not to be competitive against foreign firms, but just to pay the bankers their interest payments. PEFs do to companies what mortgage lenders did to homeowners; the debt burden created is often larger than the value of the house or the company in whose name the transaction was done.
These are no more “sick” companies than all American homeowners were sick when their homes were devalued by the actions of these lenders; the company’s stock price was simply low enough that these vultures could prey upon it.
I am adding my two cents to the great idea that our Blaine community, our county and our state get behind making Blaine a daily railroad waypoint for north- and south-bound passenger trains, which includes, of course, refurbishing our historic Blaine railroad depot.
Anyone who has traveled in or lived in Western Europe can well appreciate and communicate the convenience and economic benefits of traveling by rail.
There are many potential economic benefits to our Blaine community and surrounding businesses. Wine tasting anyone? Weekends at Semiahmoo? Blaine B&B lodging, exploring our shops and touring the harbor? I would be happy to expound further upon the benefits of a depot and railroad service, having lived, traveled and worked throughout Western Europe. Traveling via train for business and family pleasure trips is the norm in Europe.
Lastly, and as previous letters addressing this topic have addressed so well, driving south from Blaine or even Vancouver to Seattle or Portland is simply no fun and definitely not as economical as train travel could be.
While writing this I have beside me an Amtrak Cascades ad showing the following: Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., $38; Seattle to Bellingham, $22; Seattle to Portland, $31.
Pretty reasonable travel costs, yes? Imagine a trip south to Southern California. Driving from Blaine is 2-plus days if that’s all you do, constantly eyeballing the highways and traffic, and unless driving straight through (16 to 20-plus hours minimum at best), includes hotels, gas and food.
Now picture traveling from Blaine, via train, pretty much straight through via Seattle, Portland, southern Oregon, northern California. What a picturesque, peaceful trip. The train is restful and not dangerous traffic-wise; food and beverages are conveniently available without stopping and I believe Wi-Fi is free for the laptop users.
Neighboring towns to Blaine with railroad facilities include Vancouver, Bellingham, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Everett, etc. on to Seattle.It is a no-brainer for our community to get behind and push hard for a Blaine railroad station and daily passenger railroad service, south and north.
Dave Hansberry and
Mrs. Foster has been out of teaching for over a month for standing up for a kid that was being bullied. Chances are you have heard multiple rumors about what happened. We support one of Blaine’s finest teachers, Mrs. Foster.
We have set up a Facebook page/group, We Miss Mrs. Foster, and we would like the community to go on and read all the wonderful stories of how she has affected so many students and the community throughout her years of teaching. Please support us in getting Mrs. Foster back in the classroom.
Blaine High School students
Mrs. Foster is one of the few teachers at Blaine who cares about every student, no matter what the circumstance. I didn’t have the privilege of being in her class, but she’s helped on several projects, including History Day and college admissions essays. Everything that she does and all the hard work she puts into her job is in the interest of the kids, which is saying a lot in our education system today.
I’ve witnessed very few teachers throughout my schooling who show the dedication that Mrs. Foster does to every student who asks for her help. There are several great teachers in the Blaine school district, but few who compare to
Mrs. Foster. She is constantly looking out for the well-being of every student, and I can guarantee that without her, more than just Blaine Middle School will suffer. She’s one of the greatest assets that Blaine has to offer to the students and it would be detrimental to the entire district if they were to remove her.
I urge you to think long and hard about this decision and ask yourselves if depriving students of an incredible teacher like Mrs. Foster is for your benefit or for theirs.
ASB President 2010
After reading an article about this issue in The Edmonds Beacon, I just had to send an email asking that this train station be saved. How much fun it would be to take the train up to Blaine for a great day-trip ... and not make a crowded I-5 even more so. I plan on doing this, so please do all you can to save the station. Also would be such a fun trip for a group ... train ride, lunch in Blaine, shop around there, then home!
Please consider saving the station.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deep appreciation to David Riffle for the beautiful and inspiring photographs he has supplied to The Northern Light for our enjoyment. He may be off on a faraway journey now, but secretly I’m hoping he will continue to submit some “visions” from those places! When such treasures are shared from our neighbors it seems to render them more important and valued. Thanks again, David! God speed you on your journey and bring you safely home.
Due to community interest in rain barrels, BBWARM and the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District will continue to offer free rain barrel workshops in April and May 2012. We need your help to win $1,500 in the Rain Bird Intelligent Use of Water contest. If we receive the award, the money will be used to provide incentives for homeowners who install rain barrels in 2012. Visit www.iuowawards.com
and search for “Birch Bay” to vote for the project until March 15. Thanks for your help.
The next BBWARM Advisory Committee is on February 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fire Station 62 (2), 9001 Semiahmoo Parkway, Blaine. As always, we welcome your participation at these meetings. See our website for more information: www.bbwarm.whatcomcounty.org